Diving in Curaçao
Curaçao is the largest of the A-B-C (Aruba - Bonaire - Curaçao) island chain at 37 miles long and just over 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles. A shallow shelf encircles the island, followed by a vertical drop-off The drop-off begins at 30 to 40 feet and descends to well over 100 feet and is typically not far from the beach, making it an ideal place for shore diving. Curaçao has over 80 dive sites and most of them accessible by shore. Three of Curaçao's must dives are; Mushroom Forest, Wreck of the Superior Producer and Hell's Corner.
Mushroom Forest has been repeatedly rated one of the world's best dives by Sport Diver magazine. This dive site got its name from the mountains of star and boulder coral that have a mushroom-like appearance due to decades of erosion from sponges and clams. As you swim between the towers of coral you will spot numerous species of fish such as parrotfish, grouper, green and spotted morays, yellowtail snapper, smooth trunkfish and spotted drum fish.
The Superior Producer is a 240-foot cargo ship that sank in 100 feet of water off the coast of Curaçao, just beyond the bustling harbor of Willemstad. The ship was filled beyond its capacity with clothing and crates of whiskey, headed to Venezuela for the Christmas shopping season, and left the port against the captain's recommendation. It sank almost immediately after leaving the port and can be accessed by either boat or shore. The Superior Producer sits upright with its wheelhouse at 80 feet and the hull at 100 feet. This wreck dive site is one of the top 10 dive sites in Curaçao and one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean. When exploring this ship, you will find barracuda, blackbar soldierfish, grouper, yellow and purple tube sponges and sea anemones.
Hell's Corner, by the tip of Santa Martha Bay, gets its name from having unpredictable currents. With little protection from the open ocean and nearby steep cliffs, this site is for experienced divers who will be rewarded with a wealth of marine life including large gorgonians, schools of jacks, sea turtles, spotted and green morays, barracudas, tube sponges, and spiny lobsters along with an assortment of incredible brain coral.
Curaçao's climate allows for year-round diving with water temperatures averaging a warm 78-80 °F with visibility at 80 to 100 feet. A few of Curaçao's topside attractions are, Museum Kura Hulanda, Seaquarium, The Curaçao Ostrich Farm, Floating Bridge, and the Dolphin Academy. In addition to its diving,Curaçao offers a large selection of sports activities, for all ages including hiking, biking, bird watching, horseback riding, paintball, sailing and more.
See Curaçao's dive sites here.
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for U.S. Citizens with at least one blank page for passport entry stamp. No visa is required for entry.
EXIT REQUIREMENTS: There is a departure tax of $39(US) per person, which should be included in your International Airline Ticket taxes. If you are travelling to another island from Curacao, inter-island domestic departure taxes apply and should be included in your airline ticket
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Curaçao. Check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at www.cdc.gov.
Culture and Customs
The Curaçao culture is influenced by African and European cultures. One of the distinguishing marks of the famed Curaçao culture is its festivals. Curaçao's annual festival known as Curaçao Carnival, is rapidly gaining attention worldwide. Ancient Carnival began as a Catholic rite to represent the Christian practice of Carne Levale, or giving up meat for Lent. In the 19th century, Curaçao continued the tradition by organizing masquerade parties and marches in private clubs. It wasn't until 1969 that Curaçao's Carnival started to gain the popularity it enjoys today. It's one of the largest and longest lasting Carnival spectacles of the Caribbean starting in early January, and ending late February/ March. It is a gathering of different cultural groups showing their cultural heritage. The Curaçao community is composed of more than 52 ethnic groups (mostly of African and European descent).
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Curaçao is 127/120 volts at 50 cycles and they use 2 prong plugs, so most appliances made in the USA will work well and should not require an adapter.
Curaçao's country code is 5999 with a 7 digit local phone number following the country code. UTS and CT are a few of the local companies providing phone and internet service. Check with your provider to see what plans are available or you will be subject to roaming charges. Many hotels and restaurants offer WiFi
The water quality from the tap is safe to drink according to the ADC (Analytic Diagnostic Center). Bottled water is also readily available for purchase.
Language & Currency
Dutch is the official language, while Papiamentu is the most commonly spoken language. English and Spanish are all widely spoken and understood. Papiamentu is a form of Creole indigenous particularly to Bonaire, Curaçao, and Aruba, where it is considered the national language. You'll sound like a pro if you say 'Bon Dia' (Good Morning) or "Danki" (Thank you)to the locals.
The local currency is the Antillean guilder, abbreviated as Nafl. or ANG (also called the florin.) The exchange rate is set at ANG 1.79 to USD $1. Credit cards are often a ccepted, so exchanging money is not necessary. ATM's are available for withdrawls in USD or local currency
Curaçao is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Curaçao is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
History, Art, and Culture
The Amerindian Arawaks were the 1st inhabitants of Curaçao, before the Spanish lieutenant Alonso de Ojeda visited the island in 1499. In 1634, long after the Spanish had abandoned Curaçao, the Dutch West Indies Company claimed the island. In 1642, Peter Stuyvesant was installed as governor and Curaçao soon became a Dutch commercial center and developed extensive slave trade activities. The plantations were successful in growing peanuts, maize, and fruits, and the production of salt was also discovered - dried from the island's saline ponds.
During this period, the local language Papiamentu - a mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and African dialects, developed by the slaves - became the main means of communication.
In 1920, oil was discovered off the Venezuelan coast which signaled a new era for Curaçao. The island became a center for distilling crude oil imported from Venezuela, and Curaçao's Royal Dutch Shell Refinery became the island's biggest business and employer.
In modern times, Curaçao has expanded its infrastructure and modernized. The refinery is still big business, and now a large desalinization plant provides the island's potable water.
Check out Curaçao's current news and events.
Location, Size and Population
Curaçao is an island located in the Southern Caribbean Sea. Curacao is 42 miles east of Aruba, 30 miles west of Bonaire and approximately 40 miles north of South Americ. The island of Curacao is 37 miles long and 8 miles wide with an area of 171 square miles. The population of Curaçao is 158,635 (2016).